Of all the means of transport, the most romantic to me by far is the train (and the most unromantic being airplane). Trains evoke old-fashioned mystery (think Murder on the Orient Express), and the chance to see some of the world’s most exotic terrain from the comfort of your carriage.
The Trans-Siberian railway is one of the famous of all, boasting the longest rail line in the world – of about 10,000 kilometers from Europe (Russia) to Asia (China or Japan).
I hadn’t realized that there is no such thing as the Trans-Siberian-Express – and instead it is a whole network of trains servicing the massive expanse of Russia, through Siberia and even direct to China and Mongolia.
The Russian trains are basic in terms of quality and comfort with 3 classes – “spalny” (1st class, 2-berth), “kupé” (2nd class, 4-berth), and “platskartny” (3rd class, dormitory). The 1st class deluxe 2-berth is worth the extra cash with two beds, armchair, and a private washroom with showerhead shared with the next door compartment.
But if that’s still not enough luxury for you, your best choice are the specially chartered trains of GW Travel, where passengers are treated to modern cabins with en-suite bathrooms, plasma tv’s and 3-course-meals in the smart luxury car.
For those into the learning experience, Smithsonian Journeys is also offering three train expeditions complete with gourmet meals, fine wine, deluxe cabins and expert lecturers (with a Fulbright Scholar no less). The journey begins in September for 11 nights and rates start at $8,695 a person based on double occupancy.